When the Book of Commandments was rewritten as the D&C after apostles apostatized, etc., many revelations were modified and failed prophecies removed?
The Doctrine and Covenants was printed in the year 1835 and replaced the Book of Commandments. Many changes, however, were made at that time to the former’s revelations. David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, made this statement:
“Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to changed and added to. Some of the changes being the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations, and after having commanded his servants (as they claim) to print them in the “Book of Commandments;” and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface unto His Book of Commandments, which says: “Behold this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth.” Also in this preface, “Behold I am God, and have spoken it; These commandments are of me.” “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful.”The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly! This I know, and I will prove it to you.
These revelations were arranged for publication by Bro. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde and others, in Hiram, Ohio, while I was there; and were sent to Independence to be published, and were printed just exactly as they were arranged by Bro. Joseph and the others.1
David Whitmer also says, “When the Book of Commandments was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. In the winter of 1834, they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations.”
Whitmer provided us with four clear examples of changes made when the Book of Commandments became the Doctrineand Covenants:
No Other Gift
In BC 4, God declares, “And [Joseph] has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.” But the revision in D&C 5 removes this limitation: “And you have a gift to translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.”
Whitmer was quite rightly concerned that the Church would be led by a man with vast, unaccountable powers.2
All Things Are Written
God tells His saints in BC 15 that, “I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written; for in them are all things written, concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock. Wherefore if you shall build up my church, and my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”
But D&C 18 sees the Book of Mormon as just a “foundation” upon which changes can be made at will: “I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written; for in them are all things written, concerning the foundationof my church, my gospel, and my rock; wherefore, if you shall build up my church upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”
Show Not These Things unto the World
Whitmer also remarks on the changes made to BC 16: “I command you that you preach naught but repentance; and show not these things, neither speak these things unto the world, for they cannot bear meat, but milk they must receive: wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish.”
D&C 18 changes BC 16 to read “… show not these things unto the world, until it is wisdom in me.”Whitmer describes what he sees as the consequences of violating the divine command to keep these revelations hidden.
Like unto the Church in the Days of Old
Finally, Whitmer points out the change made to BC 4 regarding the organization of the Church:
[I]f the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old. [Whitmer’s emphasis]
Another example of a change Joseph Smith made to one of his revelations is his attempt to cover up Cowdery’s ability to work with a divining rod. Below is a comparison of the original revelation as found in the Book of Commandments with the altered version which now appears in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Book of Commandments
Now, this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold it has told you things: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands…
Doctrine and Covenants
Now, this is not all thy gift, for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things; Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you.
For a complete side-by-side comparison of the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants can be found in the article by Karl F. Best, entitled,“Changes in the Revelations, 1833 – 1835.”
Joseph retrofitted many earlier revelations to make it appear as if church doctrines and practices were revealed by God more sequentially and logically often excusing it as continuing revelation.
Courtesy Utah Lighthouse Ministry
As his theological views changed or evolved, Smith also made several contradictory revisions to the original doctrines in the Book of Mormon.
Compare 1 Nephi 3 pp. 25, 26, 32 in the 1830 [original] version to current Book of Mormon version in 1 Nephi 11: 18, 21, 23, 40
There have been many thousands of changes made to the Book of Mormon since the original 1830 and other early editions. Granted many are minor, grammatical and spelling corrections, but as I discussed previously their existence is not a minor issue. There have been numerous substantive changes and doctrinal revisions made as well.
Consider the following examples:
1 Nephi 13:40
“… These last records … shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father, and the Savior …”
“… These last records … shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son ofthe Eternal Father and the Savior …”
1 Nephi 11:18
“… Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.”
“… Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son ofGod, after the manner of the flesh. “
“King Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings …
“King Mosiahhad a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings
1 Nephi 20:1
… O house of Jacob, which are called out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord …
… O house of Jacob, which are called out of the waters of Judah,or out of the waters of baptism,which swear by the name of the Lord.
2 Nephi 12, p. 117
2 Nephi 30:6(1840 edition
… and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a whiteand a delightsome people.
… and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white pure and a delightsome.
2 Nephi 12:9
And the mean man boweth down…
And the mean man boweth not down…
A significant change made to the Book of Mormon is the name of the angel who is claimed, to have appeared in Joseph Smith’s bedroom. An event incidentally that four of Joseph’s brothers slept through. In the Joseph Smith’s first history, we learn that the angel’s name was Nephi: “He called me by name and said … that his name was Nephi.” 3
But in modern printings of the History of the Church, the name has been changed to “Moroni.” 4
“The original handwritten manuscript shows the name as “Nephi,” but after Joseph’s death, someone later wrote the word “Moroni” above the line.
It should be noted that Joseph Smith lived for two years after the name “Nephi” was printed in the church’s official publication Times and Seasons, and never had a problem with it or published a retraction or correction.
As well, the August 1842 edition of the Millennial Star, also printed Joseph Smith’s story stating that the angel’s name was “Nephi.”5
The name was also published in the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price as “Nephi.”
Many members are also familiar with the ‘Rocky Mountain Prophecy,’ that predicted that Salt Lake would be the place the Saints would settle after leaving Nauvoo.
Unhappily, it is not true even though the church presented it as true for more than a century.
The ‘Rocky Mountain Prophecy’ was added after the Mormons arrived in Utah.6
Some LDS scholars have lamented the suppression of the truthful Church history. Leonard Arrington, the official LDS Church Historian (1972‐1982) voiced his concern over the withholding of true Church history in favor of a faith promoting version. Dr. Arrington wrote: “It is unfortunate for the cause of Mormon history that the Church Historian’s Library, which is in the possession of virtually all of the diaries of leading Mormons, has not seen fit to publish these diaries or to permit qualified historians to use them without restriction.” 7
Dr. Arrington’s refreshing honesty resulted in his demoted in 1982 and transferred from the church historian’s office to BYU. 8 Being sent to BYU is not a promotion, just ask anyone who taught there how easy it is to get a job at another university.
As well, doctrines now considered false by the present-day Church leadership have simply been altered to conform to the doctrine du jour. Notice the following examples:
Helaman 1:16 – An incomplete sentence that shows the writer of the Book of Mormon was unfamiliar with proper sentence structure. To correct this embarrassing problem, two words were removed from the text, and a period was changed to a comma. The original reads, “…who was the son of Ammoron. Now Tobiah supposing that….”The corrected edition, however, reads, “who was the son of Ammoron, supposing that….” Obviously, this is not merely a typographical change, but a change to correct lousy sentence structure. Would God have allowed such a mistake to be penned under His supervision?
Mosiah 21:28 – In this passage, “King Benjamin” is spoken of as being alive. Apparently, however, the writer forgot that fifteen chapters earlier he recorded this man’s death. What he meant to write was “king Mosiah.” The second edition of the Book of Mormon made this change. Again, how did such a glowing error slip into a translation being overseen by the power of God?
1Letter written by David Whitmer, published in the Saints Herald, Feb. 5, 1887
2 Book of Commandments, 4
3 Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p. 753
4 History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 11
5 Karl F. Best, entitled, “Changes in the Revelations, 1833 – 1835https://www.dialoguejournal.com
6 Millennial Star, vol. 3, p. 53
7 The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 406
8 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1966, p. 26
9 Deseret News, Church Section, July 5, 1980
FairMormon’s Comments on Changes to the D&C
Comment No. 1
The Saints have never believed in inerrant prophets or inerrant scripture. The editing and modification of the revelations was never a secret; it was well known to the Church of Joseph’s day, and it has been discussed repeatedly in modern Church publications, as well as extensive studies in Masters’ and PhD(sic) theses at BYU.
If Joseph could receive the Doctrine and Covenants by revelation, then he could also receive revelation to improve, modify, revise, and expand his revelatory product. The question remains the same—was Joseph Smith a prophet? If he was, then his action is completely legitimate. If he was not, then it makes little difference whether his pretended revelations were altered or not.
Speaking to this, the Mormon writer John William Fitzgerald made this statement:
“Differences in wording that change the meaning have occurred in certain sections that appeared first in A Book of Commandments published in 1833 and that appeared later in The Doctrine and Covenants published in 1835.”
“A Study of the Doctrine and Covenants,”
Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University. 1940, p. 329
David Whitmer made this statement:
“Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to changed and added to. Some of the changes being the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations, and after having commanded his servants (as they claim) to print them in the “Book of Commandments;” and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface unto His Book of Commandments, which says: “Behold this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth.” Also in this preface, “Behold I am God, and have spoken it; These commandments are of me.” “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful.” The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly! This I know, and I will prove it to you.
These revelations were arranged for publication by Bro. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde and others, in Hiram, Ohio, while I was there; and were sent to Independence to be published, and were printed just exactly as they were arranged by Bro. Joseph and the others. And when the Book of Commandments was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. But in the winter of 1834,they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of “Doctrine and Covenants” was printed in 1835, and some of the revelations changed and added to.”
Letter written by David Whitmer,
published in the Saints Herald, February 5, 1887
Here is a change Joseph made to revise and broaden his ‘gifts.’
“And he [Joseph Smith, Jr.] has a gift to translate the book [of Mormon], and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”
Book of Commandments, Ch. 10
“And you have a gift to translate the plates, andthis is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.”
Doctrine and Covenants, Ch. 5, verse 4
“Is it possible that the minds of men can be so blinded as to believe that God would give these revelations – command them to print them in His Book of Commandments – and then afterwards (sic) command them to change and add to them some words which change the meaning entirely? As if God had changed his mind entirely after giving his word? Is it possible that man who pretends to any spirituality would believe that God would work in such a manner?”
David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon,
Saint’s Herald, Feb. 5, 1887
Joseph Smith can change anything he wants, but I agree with David Whitmer that numerous and seemingly frivolous changes make the Lord look a little ‘flakey.’
The following passage from the ‘original’ section 137 of the D&C is an example of where the Church simply pulls things out of the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Commandments when they no longer serve their current narrative or agenda or where the Smith’s prophesies were blatantly false.:
….I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and their feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold him. The Saviour looked upon them and wept.
I also beheld Elder M’Lellin in the south, standing upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart, by the mighty power of God.
Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it.
And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption Zion and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full”
This one ‘revelation’ alone is full of false prophecies, and no wonder the Church just chose to remove it altogether from the D&C. Too much, ‘splaining to do Lucy!’
At least seven of the twelve were soon excommunicated or apostatized from the church: John F. Boynton & Luke S. Johnson (1837), Lyman Johnson (1838), William E. M’Lellin (c.1838), Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hyde (1838), and William Smith (1845)’
How could Boynton, et al. have attained the Celestial Kingdom according to Smith’s rules? Not only were they accursed by their very acts of apostasy or excommunication but fell victim to the LDS Church’s own scriptural denunciation in D&C 84.40-41 which, as far as I know, has not been removed or revised:
“Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.”
Also, the vision of “M’Lellin’s preaching and working miracles in the south” (sic) never came true because he apostatized from the churchwithout ever doing it!
And, although Brigham Young did bring the Mormons West and was a great colonizer, the vision of Young preaching to “men of color”in their own language (whatever that means), in some ‘strange and faraway place in the south-west’ never took place not surprisingly as by any measure Brigham Young was an unmitigated racist.
“Zion” (Independence, MO.) has never been redeemed in the 170+ years since the prophecy was made. Again, it is not surprising that the ‘Brethren’ chose to remove whole chunks of this “inspired” revelation?
David Whitmer pointed out the absurdity of ad-hoc changes when he wrote:
“Is it possible that the minds of men can be so blinded as to believe that God would give these revelations—command them to print them in His Book of Commandments—and then afterward command them to change and add to them some words which change the meaning entirely? As if God had changed his mind entirely after giving his word? Is it possible that a man who pretends to any spirituality would believe that God would work in any such manner?”
Saints’ Herald, February 5,1887
Finally, contrary to FairMormon’s contention, the Church gives the strong impression that not just the prophets but the apostles can do no wrong and the Book of Mormon is inerrant. Look at all the all the deception and justifications that emerged when the media, not the general authorities, outed Paul Dunn as an unmitigated liar who was engaged in shady business deals.
With regard to FairMormon’s statement that, “The editing and modification of the revelations was never a secret;” This is truly laughable.
Go to the Utah Lighthouse Ministry (http://www.utlm.org/) to see just what lengths the Church went to suppress the myriad changes Smith made to the Book of Commandments and the D&C.
The lead article of the Nov. 1964 Messengerwas entitled: “Mormon Church Suppresses Book Of Commandments: Deseret Book Store Ordered Not To Sell Wilford Wood’s Reprint Of The Book Of Commandments.“
Sandra Tanner reports,“After recounting the problems we had trying to advertise our own reprint of the 1833 Book of Commandments we described the release of Wilford Wood’s reprint entitled Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 2. However, even his reprint ran into problems.”
“Since Wilford Wood’s reprint did not tell that the revelations had been changed, the Church did not try to suppress his book at that time. Instead, they promoted it and allowed him to display his original copy of the Book of Commandments in the window of the Deseret Book Store (that is the Church book store). . . . the Church leaders evidently felt that they were safe as long as members of the Church did not compare it with present editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. It appears, however, that members of the Church did compare the two editions and found that many changes had been made. On Oct. 9, 1964, a man reported to us that the Deseret Book Store had refused to sell him copies of Joseph Smith Begins His Work, V.1 and 2. On Oct. 10, 1964, Sandra Tanner went to the Deseret Book Store and asked the clerk concerning these books. The clerk, supposing she was a Mormon, said, “President David O. McKay won’t let us sell that anymore.” The clerk went on to say, “We’ve had several people leave the Church because of those books. The priest and ministers of the other churches are using these books to confuse people. Because of the confusion, we can’t sell them anymore. President McKay has taken them out of circulation.”
1960 – A Time of Suppression